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Wednesday
Jan042017

Confession Time, Here's What I Got - Jan 4, 2017

I think I finally figured out why I'm so bad at keeping a daily journal: most days, my life is dull, dull, dull. Who wants to read about cleaning the kitchen, taking the kid to music lessons, helping the kid with homework, cooking dinner, blah, blah, blah? It's my fricking life, and even I don't want to read about it.

I was trying to think of something journal-worthy that happened yesterday, but there's not much there. Oh, and when I say "yesterday" I really mean "today." You see, since I'm too tired to write at night, each "daily" entry is actually written the following morning and back-dated to the day it supposedly happened. Yes, I realize this is ridiculously convoluted, and it would have made far more sense to just set up the journal as a record of what I did the previous day, but I'm already a few entries into this endeavor and way too lazy to go back and change it now.

Which brings me to my confession: I didn't actually start this daily journal idea until yesterday. Which means I wrote the introduction and following three entries all on January 4th. And knowing me, this probably won't be the only time this happens.

I'm only telling you this because it's the main reason I don't have anything interesting to write about today. I spent a good chunk of yesterday faking past journal entries, so there's not much else to report. (Yes, I write THAT slowly.) Actually, it's not that I'm a slow writer ... it's that I'm a perfectionist, which is just a fancy way of saying it takes me 10x as long to accomplish stuff as normal people, because I spend hours tweaking and editing and "perfecting" my work product into something that is often only negligibly different than my first draft. I don't *want* to be this way, believe me. I am painfully aware that my writing is FAR from perfect, despite all the extra time I spend dicking around with it. I would love to be able to look at stuff I've written and think, "hey, that's not bad for a rough draft," instead of, "omg, toddlers finger-painting with dog poo could create more compelling prose ... and in less time."

 

I've tried to change, really I have. I printed out that famous quote, popularized by Voltaire, that asserts "the best is the enemy of the good" and taped it to my laptop (only I printed it in French, le mieux est l'ennemi du bien, because I'm just that obnoxious). It didn't help, and it's only mildly possible that it failed due to my constantly being distracted by the fact that I hadn't cut the paper perfectly straight or taped it to the EXACT center of my screen border. It's not easy being this eccentric.

I take comfort in knowing I'm not alone. There's a online program that proves others have the same issues when it comes to writing. You go into the program, set the number of words you wish to write, and start typing — the caveat being that you can't see, edit, or delete the words you've written until you hit your word count goal. All you're shown is the current word you're typing; once you hit the space bar it disappears. At first glance, this seems like the perfect solution for someone like me. What a great way to silence that inner editor ... if there's nothing there to edit, then it has no choice but to STFU, right? The control freak in me is hesitant to try this, though. It's not free, either; you have to pay a monthly subscription to use the program. And I'm not sure I'm ready to give up that much control in one fell swoop. It'd be like giving up my right to use the term "one fell swoop" ... I just don't see it happening.

Also, I'm not entirely sure it would work. I've tried countless times to force myself to keep cranking out words, ignoring that overwhelming urge to tweak the ones I've just written. You know what happens? The words dry up. It's like my brain gets so stuck on the need to fix whatever it deems wrong with the previous words that it lacks the ability to make new ones. All its attention turns backward until there is no path forward. If this were a power grid, you'd see all its energy being diverted to one tiny house, leaving everyone else in blackout conditions. Or maybe it's more like a clogged tub: new words can't flow until I've pulled out the slimy hairball of shitty words I wrote previously, mixed them up with a bunch of other words, and then tried to force them all back through the drain.

The bottom line is if I'm seriously unable to create new stuff because my brain is fixating on the old stuff, then these edit-restricting programs probably won't work for me. I can see myself sitting there, literally typing "blah, blah, blah" just to hit my goal.

So there's my deep, dark writer confession. Being a perfectionist sucks. Knowing you have a problem — yet not knowing how to solve it — also sucks. Hmm, does anyone get the feeling this journal will go from "365 Days of Hamilton" to "365 Ways in Which I Suck" before the year is out?

*raises hand*

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